If you’re anything like me, you’ve definitely been sucked into a marathon of Law and Order: SVU (DUN DUN) on more than one occasion. And if so, you’ve heard the detectives talk about transporting criminals to “the tombs.” Well, it isn’t only criminals who experience going there, sometimes it is individuals fighting for social justice. Just ask Houstonian, Ali Lozano.

In April 2011, Ali was arrested and detained for around 26 hours for protesting and fighting for LGBTQ rights and marriage equality in New York City. It was a bold and fearless move that shifted her political engagement into a decision to make a career fighting for social justice. 

“I was always into politics, but in 2009, I finally admitted to myself that I was a lesbian and that completely changed my career trajectory because as I came out I became more aware of the policies that affected me and the community,” said Ali. “Things like Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell was still around, marriage equality wasn’t a national law, the Employment Non-Discrimination Act hadn’t been passed, and so I started to get more and more involved because it just made me mad that all of these policies were keeping me and my LGBTQ family second class citizens.”

Since then, Ali has spent the past six years assisting on many political campaigns, most recently as Outreach Director for Laura Moser who ran for Congress, and has served on boards for the LGBTQ Victory Fund, the Lilith Fund for Reproductive Equity, and the Houston GLBT Political Caucus, hoping to further rights of women and LGBTQ people on the local and national levels. 

“Despite losing HERO in 2015, I think that the LGBTQ community in Houston has a very significant amount of political influence and you just don’t see that in a lot of cities, especially in the South. The Houston LGBTQ community is very politically engaged and vocal which is unique and I think sets us apart from other major cities in the South.” 

Right now, she is a full-time graduate student at the University of Houston’s Graduate College of Social Work (GCSW) and is the Graduate Assistant for the GCSW’s Voter Engagement and Political Justice Initiative, which seeks to get social workers out into communities to build political power. But it isn’t all work for Ali. When she wants to enjoy H-Town, her favorite spots are part of the local arts and music scene, and is also a fan of the spoken word/slam poetry night every Wednesday at Avant Garden put on by Write About Now Poetry.

“My family and friends in California are shocked when I rave about the Houston arts scene, but I absolutely love it,” said Ali. “There are so many hidden treasures in the city. I always recommend anyone visiting to have a Houstonian show them around so they can get a real taste of how dynamic, unique and awesome the city truly is.”